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Smash-and-grab robberies spike across US

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
This picture shows two people carrying a huge flat-screen television after making the Black Friday purchase at Walmart on November 26, 2021 in Westminster, Colorado. (Photo by AFP)

Smash-and-grab robberies across the United States have risen, according to experts.

The Hill newspaper cited experts on Saturday who said that the increase of online shopping amid the pandemic has contributed to a rise in the number of crimes involving flash mob robberies, break-ins and vandalism.

It said stores and malls in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago and other metropolitan areas have been the target of these kinds of crimes.

Retailers like Burberry, Bloomingdale’s and other high-end stories in San Francisco, a Canada Goose store, a Foot Locker location, and a North Face retailer and a cell phone shop in Chicago, as well as a Best Buy in Burnsville, Minn. had been targeted. 

A spokesperson for the Buy Safe America Coalition told The Hill that the recent rise in this sort of organized crime was in part linked to the COVID-19 pandemic.

More shoppers are shifting to online shopping, said Michael Hanson, who is also the senior executive vice president for public affairs at the Retail Industry Leaders Association, adding that, perpetrators of the organized retail crimes are cashing in on the possibility to sell the stolen goods to a larger client base of online shoppers.

Hanson said this new system of selling stolen goods contributes to an increase in crime. 

“Criminals saw that [increase in online shopping] and said,‘Oh my gosh, more people are shopping online, let’s go get more and more product to sell on marketplaces because we can make a lot of money,’” Hanson explained.

“And I think that’s why you’ve seen this increase in organized crime since the pandemic, just because there are more people shopping online and criminals are seeing an opening to sell both stolen and counterfeit goods because there’s a bigger market,” he added.

Last month, UK police reported a dramatic rise in crimes in the country.

Police investigation linked the rise in crimes, including robberies, to the government welfare policy which failed to cover basic needs.

"Combination of increased drug prices due to police enforcement, and changes to welfare systems, may have contributed to an increase in crimes of dishonesty and robbery," police reported.

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